End of Life Planning Q & A

End of Life Planning Q & A

How do I determine if I have an estate?


Many connote the word estate with wealth, but an estate consists of all assets minus your liabilities and includes land and possessions such as jewelry, art, and stocks. An estate can also include items like shoes, rare books, and other items of sentimental value. Most people have something they want to leave loved ones, so I say everyone has some sort of estate.




What is a Death Doula?


As an End of Life Doula provides support for individuals and their loved ones during illness, in the dying process and post death. A death doula also assists medical and hospice staff with non-medical related issues and assists with handling affairs for the client and family such as errands, body bathing, spiritual rituals, and funeral planning.

What is the difference between palliative and hospice care?

Palliative care generally begins at diagnosis of an illness and treatment is provided at that time. Hospice care begins after treatment is completed and when it is apparent that the person will not survive the disease. Both palliative care and hospice care provide comfort to the patient.




What documents constitute an end-of-life plan?


  • Last Will and Testament

  • Revocable Living Trust: determines what happens while you are alive and well; what happens if you become mentally incapacitated and what happens after your death.

  • Advance Medical Directive: designating a health care proxy to make medical decisions for you in the case of incapacitation.

  • Living Will; a document that contains instructions provided to your doctor whether you want to receive life-sustaining procedures if you have been diagnosed with a terminal condition, end-stage condition, or are in a persistent vegetative state. It also provides gives guidelines for your loved ones to follow if you become terminally ill.

  • Durable Powers of Attorney; You name a proxy/agent/surrogate to carry out your wishes in case of your incapacitation.

  • Financial Power of Attorney; allows you to delegate someone to manage your financial assets.




Is embalming necessary?


Embalming slows down the decomposition stages of the body. Most funeral homes will encourage embalming particularly if the wake, funeral, public viewing occurs a considerable time after the death. Embalming is also encouraged in the cases of Ebola or plague, not necesarily COVID-19. It is not necessary if the body will be immediately cremated directly without a viewing. If a family wants a home funeral embalming is not necessary and an end-of-life doula can assist you in preparing your loved one for a proper burial.




What is a natural burial?


Natural burial also known as a green burial is the interment of the body of a dead person in the soil that allows the body to decompose naturally. Green cemeteries also allow for spreading of cremated ashes. It is becoming increasingly popular for those concerned about global warming and conservation.